It’s Who You Know

Now that I no longer work for the Boston Globe I can do whatever I want.

Not really. But I don’t have to worry about being busted for making a political contribution, or feel weird about making friends with people I write about. On the contrary. I can shamelessly exploit the connections I’ve made as a music journalist for my personal advancement. So. When I decided to move ahead with the plan to write songs, the first thing I needed to do was dust off my guitar and brush up my skills, which never exceeded paltry. I can produce sounds on my guitar that an average person would tolerate around a campfire. I had a few choices. I could bust out the Alfred Handy Chord Encyclopedia and hole up in my room. I could sign up for lessons at a local music school. Or I could call Jen Trynin, a badass songwriter and guitarist who flirted with rock stardom in the ’90s and lives across the river in Watertown.

I called Jen (that’s her in the photo). She’s sharp and funny — she wrote a memoir called “Everything I’m Cracked Up To Be” — and my intuition, the only game I’ve got, told me she would make an awesome starter guru. Jen told me that she’s not “technically” a guitar teacher. I asked if she would be up for sitting down with me every once in a while for nebulous mentoring involving guitars. I would pay her in cocktails. She said yes. Here is a sample of our early email correspondence:


Subject: Fun

Jen: Looking forward to our shared adventure. I hope you don’t suck.

Subject: Songwriting

Me: I definitely want to talk with you about writing songs.

Jen: My real advice is just use the bottom two (the lowest, fattest) strings as “bass notes” and write yer dang songs wit dat – cuz dat’s all u need, babee! And don’t be shy.

Subject: Update on bar chords

Me: Give me the cheating way or give me death.

Jen: Cheating, definitely.

So far, so good.


Filed under: I am trying to write some songs Tagged: ,


  1. Posted April 19, 2011 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    So stoked to hear the fruits of this new venture Joan.

  2. Posted July 5, 2011 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

    Hi there! I found you on Zoe’s blog and just had to click! SO glad that you are TESTING the premise that the young are uniquely qualified to push the creative limits!

    I too have so many inklings to create at this phase of my life. It’s so hard to just settle on one at a time. Looking back, it’s easy to see the thread of art every since been teeny weeny….

    Good luck on your songs. I truly believe that they are INSIDE you, and that you just need to let them out. Go ahead, be raw, be exposed, be vulnerable. Just do it! And you can’t stick your toe in the water, decide it’s cold and negotiate with it, either. You simply must dive in the deep end and swim!

    It also helps to mix with creative types. Which I see you also do. There is a synergy in that that I find so magical.


    • joan
      Posted July 11, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

      Kelly! Welcome! Thanks for the vote of confidence. You are a part of the synergy.

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